Advice on Planning Fire Egress Exits in the Office
Planning a fire egress in an office building is an important aspect of the overall safety plan. An egress, or an exit, should be clearly marked and must meet fire codes. OSHA has regulations in place for workplace fire egresses. There are also local and state regulations will also be in place.
Step 1 - Get Copies of the Regulations
Depending on the type of building, the location, and the locality, the regulations will vary. OSHA requires exits to be located strategically throughout the building. They must never be more than a certain number of feet apart from each other. They also need to be accessible to everyone in the building. The local regulations will also dictate how many egresses are necessary, where they should be, and the signage required. Once you have the regulations, you can start to map out where to install the exits
Step 2 - Map it Out
Compare the regulations to the blueprints. Figure out where all of the egresses should be placed. If there are obstacles, find another way to lay out the exits so that they will comply with all regulations. This may take you a few tries to get all of the requirements mapped out.
Step 3 - Prepare Windows
Windows can be used as egresses, and many codes require that they be accessible to exit if needed. Any window that needs to be used as an egress should have panes that are can be popped out easily. An egress must also have a ladder that can be used to reach the level ground. It can be a ladder either permanently attached; it can also drop down or pull up.
Step 4 - Prepare Signs
Fire egresses need to be clearly marked. Overhead illuminated signs over fire exits are required in most cities. Some places require that the signs be written in both English and Spanish. Others require pictures to make them easy to identify. Signs placed directly on doors that are fire doors are also required.
Step 5 - Maps
Maps of fire exits need to be framed and placed throughout the office. You may only need a few maps, but some regulations state that a map must be located in every hallway, elevator, stairwell, and even restrooms. Make several copies of the map and use a red marker to mark the area the map is found. Doing so will allow everyone in the office to quickly identify where they are as well as the fastest egress to safety.
Step 6 - Remove Obstacles
File cabinets, desks, hutches, machinery, and other items need to be removed from the path of the exits. It's not a bad idea to mark off the area with masking tape or duct tape to denote that nothing can be placed there. If the office is inspected by the fire marshal, and there are items blocking the egresses, fines may be assessed. Worse, if a fire breaks out, these obstacles can prevent people from exiting to safety.